The Ransom—God’s Greatest Gift

What Does the Bible Really Teach?

CHAPTER FIVE

The Ransom—God’s Greatest Gift

What is the ransom?

How was it provided?

What can it mean for you?

How can you show that you appreciate it?

WHAT is the greatest gift you have ever received? A
gift does not have to be expensive to be important. After all, the true
value of a gift is not necessarily measured in terms of money. Rather,
when a gift brings you happiness or fills a real need in your life, it
has great value to you personally.

2
Of the many gifts you could ever hope to receive, there is one that
stands out above all others. It is a gift from God to mankind. Jehovah
has given us many things, but his greatest gift to us is the ransom
sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28)
As we will see in this chapter, the ransom is the most valuable gift
you could possibly receive, for it can bring you untold happiness and
can fill your most important needs. The ransom is really the greatest
expression of Jehovah’s love for you.

WHAT IS THE RANSOM?

3 Put simply, the ransom is Jehovah’s means to
deliver, or save, humankind from sin and death. (Ephesians 1:7)
To grasp the meaning of this Bible teaching, we need to think back to
what happened in the garden of Eden. Only if we understand what Adam
lost when he sinned can we appreciate why the ransom is such a valuable
gift to us.

4 When he created Adam, Jehovah gave him
something truly precious—perfect human life. Consider what that meant
for Adam. Made with a perfect body and mind, he would never get sick,
grow old, or die. As a perfect human, he had a special relationship
with Jehovah. The Bible says that Adam was a “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) So
Adam enjoyed a close relationship with Jehovah God, like that of a son
with a loving father. Jehovah communicated with his earthly son, giving
Adam satisfying assignments of work and letting him know what was
expected of him.—Genesis 1:28-30;
2:16, 17.

5 Adam was made “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27)
That did not mean that Adam resembled God in appearance. As we learned
in Chapter 1
of this book, Jehovah is an invisible spirit. (John 4:24) So
Jehovah does not have a body of flesh and blood. Being made in God’s
image meant that Adam was created with qualities like those of God,
including love, wisdom, justice, and power. Adam was like his Father in
another important way in that he possessed free will. Hence, Adam was
not like a machine that can perform only what it is designed or
programmed to do. Instead, he could make personal decisions, choosing
between right and wrong. If he had chosen to obey God, he would have
lived forever in Paradise on earth.

6 Clearly, then, when Adam disobeyed God and was
condemned to death, he paid a very high price. His sin cost him his
perfect human life with all its blessings. (Genesis 3:17-19)
Sadly, Adam lost this precious life not only for himself but also for
his future offspring. God’s Word says: “Through one man [Adam] sin
entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to
all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
Yes, all of us have inherited sin from Adam. Hence, the Bible says that
he “sold” himself and his offspring into slavery to sin and death. (Romans 7:14)
There was no hope for Adam or Eve because they willfully chose to
disobey God. But what about their offspring, including us?

7 Jehovah came to mankind’s rescue by means of
the ransom. What is a ransom? The idea of a ransom basically involves
two things. First, a ransom is the price paid to bring about a release
or to buy something back. It might be compared to the price paid for
the release of a prisoner of war. Second, a ransom is the price that
covers, or pays, the cost of something. It is similar to the price paid
to cover the damages caused by an injury. For example, if a person
causes an accident, he would have to pay an amount that fully
corresponds to, or equals, the value of what was damaged.

8
How would it be possible to cover the enormous loss that Adam inflicted
on all of us and to release us from slavery to sin and death? Let us
consider the ransom that Jehovah provided and what this can mean for
you.

HOW JEHOVAH PROVIDED THE RANSOM

9 Since a perfect human life was lost, no
imperfect human life could ever buy it back. (Psalm 49:7, 8)
What was needed was a ransom equal in value to what was lost. This is
in harmony with the principle of perfect justice found in God’s Word,
which says: “Soul will be for soul.” (Deuteronomy 19:21)
So, what would cover the value of the perfect human soul, or life,
that Adam lost? Another perfect human life was the “corresponding
ransom” that was required.—1 Timothy 2:6.

Jehovah gave his only-begotten Son as a ransom for us

10 How did Jehovah provide the ransom? He sent
one of his perfect spirit sons to the earth. But Jehovah did not send
just any spirit creature. He sent the one most precious to him, his
only-begotten Son. (1 John 4:9, 10)
Willingly, this Son left his heavenly home. (Philippians 2:7)
As we learned in the preceding chapter
of this book, Jehovah performed a miracle when he transferred the life
of this Son to the womb of Mary. By means of God’s holy spirit, Jesus
was born as a perfect human and was not under the penalty of sin.—Luke 1:35.

11 How could one man serve as a ransom for
many, in fact, millions of humans? Well, how did humans numbering into
the millions come to be sinners in the first place? Recall that by
sinning, Adam lost the precious possession of perfect human life.
Hence, he could not pass it on to his offspring. Instead, he could pass
on only sin and death. Jesus, whom the Bible calls “the last Adam,”
had a perfect human life, and he never sinned. (1 Corinthians
15:45
) In a sense, Jesus stepped into Adam’s place in order to save
us. By sacrificing, or giving up, his perfect life in flawless
obedience to God, Jesus paid the price for Adam’s sin. Jesus thus
brought hope to Adam’s offspring.—Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians
15:21, 22
.

12 The Bible describes in detail the suffering
that Jesus endured before his death. He experienced harsh whipping,
cruel impalement, and an agonizing death on a torture stake. (John 19:1, 16-1830; Appendix) Why
was it necessary for Jesus to suffer so much? In a later chapter of
this book, we will see that Satan has questioned whether Jehovah has
any human servants who would remain faithful under trial. By enduring
faithfully in spite of great suffering, Jesus gave the best possible
answer to Satan’s challenge. Jesus proved that a perfect man possessing
free will could keep perfect integrity to God no matter what the Devil
did. Jehovah must have rejoiced greatly over the faithfulness of his
dear Son!—Proverbs
27:11
.

13 How was the ransom paid? On the 14th day of
the Jewish month Nisan in 33 C.E., God allowed his perfect and sinless
Son to be executed. Jesus thus sacrificed his perfect human life “once
for all time.” (Hebrews 10:10)
On the third day after Jesus died, Jehovah raised him back to spirit
life. In heaven, Jesus presented to God the value of his perfect human
life sacrificed as a ransom in exchange for Adam’s offspring. (Hebrews 9:24)
Jehovah accepted the value of Jesus’ sacrifice as the ransom needed to
deliver mankind from slavery to sin and death.—Romans 3:23, 24.

WHAT THE RANSOM CAN MEAN FOR YOU

14 Despite our sinful condition, we can enjoy
priceless blessings because of the ransom. Let us consider some of the
present and future benefits of this greatest gift from God.

15
The forgiveness of sins. Because of inherited imperfection,
we have a real struggle to do what is right. All of us sin either in
word or in deed. But by means of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, we can
receive “the forgiveness of our sins.” (Colossians
1:13, 14
) To gain that forgiveness, however, we must be truly
repentant. We must also humbly appeal to Jehovah, asking his
forgiveness on the basis of our faith in the ransom sacrifice of his
Son.—1 John
1:8, 9
.

16 A clean conscience before God. A
guilty conscience can easily lead to hopelessness and make us feel
worthless. Through the forgiveness made possible by the ransom, though,
Jehovah kindly enables us to worship him with a clean conscience
despite our imperfection. (Hebrews
9:13, 14
) This makes it possible for us to have freeness of speech
with Jehovah. Therefore, we can freely approach him in prayer. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Maintaining a clean conscience gives peace of mind, promotes
self-respect, and contributes to happiness.

17 The hope of everlasting life on a
paradise earth.
“The wages sin pays is death,” says Romans 6:23.
The same verse adds: “But the gift God gives is everlasting life by
Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Chapter 3 of
this book, we discussed the blessings of the coming earthly Paradise. (Revelation
21:3, 4
) All those future blessings, including life everlasting in
perfect health, are made possible because Jesus died for us. To receive
those blessings, we need to show that we appreciate the gift of the
ransom.

HOW CAN YOU SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION?

18 Why should we be deeply grateful to Jehovah
for the ransom? Well, a gift is especially precious when it involves a
sacrifice of time, effort, or expense on the part of the giver. Our
heart is touched when we see that a gift is an expression of the
giver’s genuine love for us. The ransom is the most precious of all
gifts, for God made the greatest sacrifice ever in providing it. “God
loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son,” says John 3:16.
The ransom is the most outstanding evidence of Jehovah’s love for us. It
is also proof of Jesus’ love, for he willingly gave his life in our
behalf. (John
15:13
) The gift of the ransom should therefore convince us that
Jehovah and his Son love us as individuals.—Galatians 2:20.

19 How, then, can you demonstrate that you
appreciate God’s gift of the ransom? To begin with, get to know
more about the Great Giver, Jehovah.
(John 17:3) A
study of the Bible with the aid of this publication will help you to do
that. As you grow in knowledge of Jehovah, your love for him will
deepen. In turn, that love will make you want to please him.—1 John 5:3.

Getting to know more about Jehovah is one way to show that you
appreciate his gift of the ransom

20
Exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Jesus himself
said: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life.” (John 3:36)
How can we exercise faith in Jesus? Such faith is not shown by words
alone. “Faith without works is dead,” says James 2:26.
Yes, true faith is proved by “works,” that is, by our actions. One way
to show that we have faith in Jesus is by doing our best to imitate him
not just in what we say but also in what we do.—John 13:15.

21 Attend the annual observance of the
Lord’s Evening Meal.
On the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus
introduced a special observance that the Bible calls “the Lord’s
evening meal.” (1 Corinthians
11:20
; Matthew
26:26-28
) This observance is also called the Memorial of Christ’s
death. Jesus instituted it to help his apostles and all true Christians
after them to bear in mind that by means of his death as a perfect
human, he gave his soul, or life, as a ransom. Regarding this
observance, Jesus commanded: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
Observing the Memorial reminds us of the great love shown by both
Jehovah and Jesus in connection with the ransom. We can show our
appreciation for the ransom by being present at the yearly observance
of the Memorial of Jesus’ death.*

22
Jehovah’s provision of the ransom is indeed an invaluable gift. (2 Corinthians
9:14, 15
) This priceless gift can benefit even those who have died. Chapters 6 and
7 will
explain how.


*  For
more information about the meaning of the Lord’s Evening Meal, see the Appendix.

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES

  • The ransom is Jehovah’s means to deliver humankind from sin and
    death.—Ephesians
    1:7
    .
  • Jehovah provided the ransom by sending his only-begotten Son to
    earth to die for us.—1 John 4:9, 10.
  • By means of the ransom, we gain the forgiveness of sins, a clean
    conscience, and the hope of everlasting life.—1 John 1:8, 9.
  • We show that we appreciate the ransom by getting to know more about
    Jehovah, by exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, and by
    attending the Lord’s Evening Meal.—John 3:16.

Study Questions

1, 2. (a) When does a gift have great value to you
personally? (b) Why can it be said that the ransom is the most valuable
gift you could ever receive?

3. What is the ransom, and what do we need to understand
in order to appreciate this valuable gift?

4. What did perfect human life mean for Adam?

5. What does the Bible mean when it says that Adam was
made “in God’s image”?

6. When Adam disobeyed God, what did he lose, and how
were his offspring affected?

7, 8. A ransom basically involves what two things?

9. What sort of ransom was required?

10. How did Jehovah provide the ransom?

11. How could one man serve as a ransom for millions?

12. What was proved by Jesus’ suffering?

13. How was the ransom paid?

14, 15. To receive “the forgiveness of our sins,” what
must we do?

16. What enables us to worship God with a clean
conscience, and what is the value of such a conscience?

17. What blessings are made possible because Jesus died
for us?

18. Why should we be grateful to Jehovah for the
provision of the ransom?

19, 20. In what ways can you show that you appreciate
God’s gift of the ransom?

21, 22. (a) Why should we attend the annual observance
of the Lord’s Evening Meal? (b) What will be explained in Chapters 6 and 7?

Published in 2005

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